Talks on ‘Ayodhya Kand’ – Part 2 – March 2019

Talks on “Ayodhya Kand – Based on Valmiki Ramayana” – Part 2 – by Swami Abhedananda

(Gyan Yagna conducted from 26th February till 1st March, 2019)

Key Points from the Discourses

Day 1

The second part of the Gyan Yagna on the Ayodhya Kand of Valmiki Ramayana was organized by Chinmaya Mission South Africa from 26th February till 1st March at the Durban ashram. This yagna, which was a continuation from the Feb yagna, got off to a scintillating start as Swami Abhedanandaji enlightened the listeners about the great importance of Dharma in one’s life as expounded by Rishi Valmiki through Bhagavan Ram’s life and katha.

We bring to you some noteworthy points to ponder upon from this series of illuminating talks by Swamiji:

The Ultimate Testament on Dharma

  • Dharma is that which governs our responses, especially in difficult situations. Dharma holds our confidence under all circumstances and makes sure that our energy is not depleted but rather enhanced.
  • Moment to moment our responses do two things – either they create disturbing impressions and bind us or they create impressions which make us free. Bhagavan Ram had to undergo so much injustice because of Kaikeyi, but He had no reservoir of bad thoughts against her, He only nurtured beautiful thoughts of her as His loving mother.
  • Dharma is not puja. Puja comes under upasana. Dharma is what you say, think, do, feel and enjoy. When you are faced with a certain situation, if the experience leaves you feeling collected and not scattered, it means you have rightly practiced your dharma.
  • The outer situation is not in your hand but your thoughts about the situation are in your hand. Ability to nurture those thoughts which make you available for Guru and God, which allow you to take in more challenges and give you merits for the future, and also get goodwill of others – that is called Dharma.
  • We should be very careful about what thoughts we make about any object or person because those thoughts keep coming back to us many times, they do not disappear.
  • Bhagavan Ram’s lila is to teach us many valuable lessons such as – how one should be a champion of renunciation; what should be one’s way of looking at things; how one should be egoless; how one should have the emotion of love towards all; how one should be sensitive towards the higher.
  • Dharma is one thing which expresses at all times. It’s not a part time job. It pervades and permeates all thoughts and actions. It brings you to your own self.
  • Thinking of dharma makes you much stronger. The very thought of dharma will make you think that nothing can touch your joy and security. The inner consciousness born out of righteousness is what gives a person confidence and this is a result of their dharmic vriti (thought).
  • Lord Ram’s character depicts which vriti (thought) is required the most in life, which needs to be developed and which is missing. What is the right way of thinking? What is that master thought which will be a mood changer?
  • The capacity to replace the lower thought with a better thought so that your response creates fearlessness, knowledge, joy and harmony, the thought which leaves you feeling very composed and collected – that is dharma.
  • Adharmic thought does the exact opposite and takes away your knowledge, love, security and poise. Once it has taken root and you can’t take it out, it starts playing havoc.
  • The more you have the capacity to take away the adharmic thought with dharmic thought, the more you will be happy. For instance. If somebody says something bad to you, instead of having a thought of anger you can substitute it with the dharmic thought of forgiveness.
  • To hold the thought of dharma, sometimes external hardness is required. If you have the soft vritti (thought) of loving God and surrendering to Him then you need the hard thought of being firm with yourself in doing your japa and upasana. If you are not hard on yourself you will never be able to hold the thought of faith, dispassion, sacrifice, devotion and surrender.
  • Every moment of Bhagavan Ram’s life was a lesson in dharma. If someone was angry at Ramji, He would still not get angry at the person. This is very important quality to have but very difficult to cultivate. If an angry person came in front of Ramji, He knew how to pacify and quieten them.
  • Seva is one thing which will make your mind highly quiet. The moment you think ‘I am born to serve and give joy to something higher,’ your mind will be quiet. The moment you think ‘I am born to take joy rather than give,’ then you will be in trouble. Life is not meant for fulfilling personal egocentric desires. The more one depersonalizes, the more powerful he becomes.

Day 2

Continuing the satsang on Valmiki Ramayana’s Ayodhya Kanda, Swamiji elaborated beautifully through Bhagavan Ram’s character, what we as human beings are designed for, and what we are not designed for.

Sharing below the second part of the summary of discourses from the yagna:

The Right way of Living

  1. Bhagavan Ram teaches us that human beings are not designed to think and do whatever comes to their mind. If in a car, some wrong fuel is put, the car will not move, rather the engine may get destroyed. Similarly, as human beings, we are not supposed to do any and every action without gauging if it is as per our dharma or not. If we do adharmic action, we are bound to become insecure in life. Love, respect, position, money, everything will become insecure; the mind will be agitated and will not be at peace.
  1. Through His own most fragrant example, Bhagavan Rama shows us that we are not designed for entertaining and encouraging every way of thinking or responding. He demonstrates with His every thought, action and response, how we can build a joyous world for ourselves and for others, firstly by choosing the correct thoughts.
  1. Bhagavan Ram was surrounded by such thoughts which were ever-ready to serve Him, every ready to usher Him into some kind of knowledge, peace.
  1. In Valmiki Ramayana, that particular way of life, that particular way of thinking is described, through which we are not left with regrets, bondage and a heavy load of thoughts.
  1. From the appearance, the behaviour of a person, we can see what vrittis (thoughts) are in his mind. Because Bhagavan Ram’s thoughts were always beautiful and pure, His very appearance was always madhurah (sweet) and saumya (soft).

Play of Thoughts

  1. Thoughts of unfulfilled desires, resentment at being ridiculed by people, being abandoned by someone, or being so attached to someone that we are devastated when they pass away – these are all nothing but thoughts which can become a very heavy load to carry in life.
  1. Dharma is the way through which we dilute these heavy, negative thoughts and bring out such a beautiful way of thinking that our life becomes smooth and joyous.
    • The thought that ‘I have enough’, can make our day, our life, very beautiful.
    • The thought of humility can make our mind extremely quiet.
    • The thought of gratefulness can usher us into a lot of seva bhava, and extract from us a quality of seva that we had never dreamt we were capable of.
    • The thought that ‘I can give up anything for my Lord’, can give us immense joy.
    • From Bhagavan Ram, we learn to usher in all such thoughts.
  1. Our whole day passes in the intimate company of our own thoughts. The world around us—whatever we have, good or bad—is the grossified form of the thoughts that we have entertained in the past.
  1. Hence one must try to nurture dharmic thoughts and live a life accordingly. Dharma is that medicine which removes our biting, burning, demanding, expecting, lustful thoughts.

Glory of the thought of ‘Seva’

  1. Every relationship, whether it is marriage or any other, is an institution where we must learn to bring out thoughts of seva dharma. The one who serves, and who has the constant thought of serving, is always more joyful than the one who is being served.
    • The service we do “outside”, whether it is seva of a husband, a wife, a parent, a child or other, is a ritual, a tool.
    • While doing this seva outside, the inside of our mind gets filled with beautiful thoughts.
    • By the very thought of ‘May I serve you’, we are cushioning our mind with soft, wonderful thoughts, and are removing any space for ugly, harsh thoughts.
    • Of course, the fruits of seva will come in the future, but in the present itself, we are creating a beautiful mind for ourselves.
  1. When we entertain selfish, ungrateful thoughts like ‘Why should I serve’, we are whipping our own minds with unrighteous thoughts.
  1. With seva bhava and the thought of giving joy to others, we can conquer ugly instincts like anger, jealousy and lust. When these negativities are erased, that itself brings to the mind so much joy and peace. To know that ‘I have conquered anger’, is a supreme joy, and that can be understood only by the one who has conquered it.
  1. A person who conquers his lower thoughts becomes not only strong, but extremely effective. He has much more space in his mind for puja, japa, seva and meditation.
  1. The thoughts of seva, of obedience, of egolessness…these thoughts have to be sown and cultivated. They are not natural to us at the present moment.

Day 3

During the yagna on Ayodhya Kand, Swami Abhedanandaji delved ever deeper into the exemplary characters in Valmiki Ramayana, to bring the audience the jewels of quintessential lessons and instructions for a beautiful life.

Unlike in Krishna avatar, where Bhagavan showed a flamboyant Ishwari leela by killing demons like Putana early in the narrative, in His Ram avatar, Bhagavan scripted a host of situations through which He demonstrated to us—through His own responses, how we should think and behave—so that we can be free from the tyranny of situations.

Importance of Dhriti (Tolerance)

  1. Tolerance as taught by Bhagavan Ram is not a weak, fatalistic acceptance of situations, but a strength that helps us rise above situations.
  1. In Bhagavan Ram’s yatra from near-coronation in Ayodhya to vanvaas in the forest, Bhagavan Ram demonstrates to the jeeva, the necessity to endure a lot, tolerate a lot.
  1. The essence of dharma is dhriti, or tolerance. Tolerance means meeting an unconducive situation without giving the situation the power to disturb us.
  1. In our life, some people’s words, some situations we find almost impossible to get over or get out of. The purpose of dharma is to develop dhriti, an increased capacity to digest unconducive people, situations, financial and other troubles, without allowing them, to overwhelm us.
  1. Every weakness in us means we are prone to disturbance from certain issues. By developing dhriti, we reduce our tendency to be disturbed by those situations.
  1. Dhriti is a core quality we need to develop in the building of our character. Dhriti is the capacity that makes us free from the wrong kind of insistence.
  1. Bhagavan Ram exemplifies this quality of dhriti, when, on the first night of vanvaas, coming straight from His princely life in the palace, He laid down on the forest ground to sleep as if nothing had changed. He was not angry, agitated or sad at all.
  1. This dhriti, this capacity of tolerance, comes when ahankaar and attachment are not strong in us. If Bhagavan Ram had wanted the kingdom passionately, or if He had been attached to comforts, or if He was egoistic, He would have reacted very differently to the news of exile.

Importance of thinking through our actions

  1. Valmiki Ramayana stresses the importance of carefully considering one’s fruits of action before performing any action.
  1. Devastated after Bhagavan Ram leaves for vanvaas, Dashrathji remembers the incident in his past, where he had carelessly shot an arrow in the forest, without having its target in his line of sight. And instead of hitting an animal, shot a hermit boy and killed him. Dashrathaji says to Kaushalya, that the fruit of his careless action, which was waiting, had now arrived giving result to such difficult situation.
  1. From the immense pain of separation from Ramji, Dashrathji gives up his pran. After Dashrathji dies, his entourage arrives, and notes the bitterness of Dashrathji’s prarabdha—With four sons, and no ordinary sons at that, not a single one was to be present when Dashrathji breathed his last.
  1. Dashrathji, the father of Bhagavan Ram Himself, could not escape from the gruesome results of his past actions. We, as ordinary people, must realise that we too, at some point will face the fruit of every action we undertake.

Why have Devotion in life?

  1. Devotion is not an option in life. The moment we make it an option, we put ourselves in trouble.
  1. Devotion is life’s most urgent requirement, because if we don’t have devotion, we will always be afraid for our future. If we don’t have devotion, we will fall for every small temptation.
  1. In devotion we do not fall in love (with God), we rise in love with Him.
  1. Lakshmanji used to say that he didn’t want any options in his life, and his whole life was only to please just One—his beloved Bhagavan Ram. This thirst to please the Lord is the essence of both Karma yoga and Bhakti yoga.
  1. For those who insist on working for their own selfish joy, it is important to realise that the smaller is their altar of dedication, the lesser will be their strength and energy in any work that they undertake.
  1. If we work for two people, we have energy for two people. If we work for a hundred, we will have commensurate energy. If we work for the country, the energy of the whole country will be with us.
  1. Lakshmanji teaches us a most beautiful sentiment when he says, “The same God who gave us everything, let us offer everything back to Him.”
  1. It is very, very rare to find a real devotee of the Lord. Very few people are thirsty for the Lord.
  1. Lakshmanji had only one agenda, one goal, “I just want to see Bhagavan Ram happy all the time. I don’t want anything else.”